Sierra Leone is heading for disaster once again.
The warning signs are all over the place. You may not read this in many newspapers because a large number of the Sierra Leone media –Print and online–have gone missing in action at another most crucial time of the country’s checkered history for reasons best known to their editors. It is amazing that at a time of extreme human rights, constitutional, parliamentary and rule of law abuses in the nation, newspapers would be publishing mere soft news about the government as if there is nothing wrong going on. However, you can hear the palpable anger of the people rising through incendiary audios and videos at Whatsapp.
Listening to the audios produced by Sierra Leoneans and posted on Whatsapp is alarming and we do not think they must be ignored. We at COCORIOKO are not the ones saying it. We are only reporting what we are hearing in these audios. If the anger being expressed by people in these audios is anything to go by, extreme rage at the miscalculations, and what the producers describe as deliberate acts of provocation of the people by the Government of President Maada Bio, since he came to power last year, is building in the country, never mind the fact that his supporters do not see it that way and the international community is silent, despite being the ones who struggled to restore costly peace in the country, at the monumental expense of resources and human lives.
Last Saturday’s blatant electoral fraud , which saw the National Elections Commission ( NEC ) manipulate and change the results of the Tonko Limba Ward Elections and award victory to the losing candidate belonging to the Government, has angered so many Sierra Leoneans , across the broad spectrum of the citizenry, that in some of the angry audios, some people are calling for violence and attacks on the Elections Commissioner, Mr. Nfa Allie Conteh, who is now competing with President Bio for the honor of PUBLIC ENEMY NO.1, because they feel it is the only option left for the Bio SLPP Government to hear the voices of the people that this government is going too far in its reckless, willful and deliberate violation of the human and constitutional and legal rights of the citizens.
Since this government came to power last year, Sierra Leoneans have seen shocking scenes of supporters of the APC being attacked, beaten, maimed or even killed. Like lawless barbarians, SLPP supporters have gone around burning homes of opponents and destroying their sources of livelihood. The Government has sent Police into the wells of Parliament to beat up opposition parliamentarians protesting against the unlawful appointment of the Speaker. President Bio took no action to stop these violent attacks. Nor did he make any public pronouncement condemning them. The President , himself, has engaged in mass dismissals in the ministries, departments and agencies ( MDAs) of people belonging to the oppositions and tribes from the Norh/West . While other governments have made dismissals before, President Bio’s have been too excessive and they target only North/Westerners. Nothing has been more troubling than the fact that all the replacements and appointees of this President has favoured only the Mende Tribe. In Sierra Leone today , it now seems like one must be a Mende to benefit from appointments , privileges and opportunities. Though the APC too made mistakes in power, it was not at this extreme and excessive extent this SLPP Government is doing things. The APC gave top ministerial, ambassadorial and public appointments to Mendes.
The SLPP added pepper to the injuries of the people last Saturday when they went to Tonko Limba with the deliberate purpose to defraud the country’s electoral process. The nation is awash with condemnation of this fraudulent election by the media, civil society, concerned citizens, opposition parties and even the National Elections Watch ( NEW ). But the Bio government is not listening, fuelling fears that the 2023 elections too could be stolen by the SLPP, which could lead to chaos.
From the deliberate and calculated manner these atrocities are being repeatedly committed, there is no doubt that the SLPP Government is perpetrating and nourishing “The pervading toxic culture of impunity’, as the UN describes it, which led to the last catastrophic war. That this government is nourishing the culture of impunity could be seen in the alacrity and taunting of the government’s opponents in the social media by SLPP supporters as these hurtful acts are being committed .
We all know how the spirit of impunity caused the wars in Sierra Leone, Liberia and other countries. It is on record in the report of the TRUTH AND RECONCILIATION COMMISSION ( TRC) that the war in Sierra Leone could not have happened if those in power and their supporters had not inculcated the spirit of impunity and paid deaf ears to the cries of the people. When there was no other outlet to be heard, the people took the law into their hands and resorted to violence.
The same mistake is being committed again by the Bio government.